Scientists are trading telescopes for aprons this week to sell Milky Way cupcakes, Saturn cake, and chocolate chip Opportunity cookies in an effort to salvage U.S. planetary science projects.
The 2013 budget proposal submitted by the Obama administration earlier this year would cut funding for NASA‘s planetary science projects by about $300 million. While Congress is still deliberating over the federal budget, groups of scientists are planning a series of demonstrations — in the form of bake sales, car washes and other events — for Saturday (June 9) to plead their case.
Though planet-studying spacecraft usually cost millions, or even billions, of dollars, every penny helps. That’s the reasoning behind the Planetary Exploration Car Wash and Bake Sale to be held by University of Central Florida students and professors who hope to sway lawmakers into providing more money for studying the solar system. It is one of nearly 20 planned demonstrations for Saturday at sites across the country, organizers said.
“We’re not asking for more of the pie, we’re asking for less of a bite out of the pie,” Laura Seward, a graduate student at the university who organized the event, said in a statement. “A strong robotic planetary exploration program is essential for a strong human planetary exploration program.”
Late tonight, the world watched and cheered as NASA oversaw the landing of the lab robot rover Curiosity on Mars. We’ve got comprehensive social media coverage of the event at Twitchy in case you missed the live landing.
The White House was quick to put out a statement:
“Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.
The successful landing of Curiosity – the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet – marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.
Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.
A Facebook commenter summed up the football-spiking spectacle: “Obama cuts NASA funding and now takes credit for investing in it. SMH [Shaking my head]”
Also: If Obama now an advocate of privatizing federal space programs to save taxpayer dollars, why does he attack and demonize government reformers who are looking for market-based solutions on health care?
How can the same Presidential proclamation to go to Mars get completely different media reactions? Well if one comes from that pompous George W. Bush and the other comes from the poised Barack Obama we get our answer. The media has revealed their bias. It’s not the principles of the message but the politics of the man that matter.
On Thursday President Obama announced plans for the United States to go to Mars. While the news coverage is focusing on Obama’s rejection of Bush’s plan for some Moon missions prior to Mars, the real story is that the media has responded with glee to Obama’s manned Red Planet mission after slamming Bush for the same declaration 4 years ago.
I offer just a few examples of many.
In 2004 NPR did a story called “Physicists Decry Bush’s Mars Mission Plan“ In 2008 their title was “Obama sees Americans to Mars Within His Lifetime.”
Today Slate featured an article praising Obama’s leadership: “Obama, on the Moon: Been There, Done That.” Back in 2004 their story said Bush was an imperialist for wanting to go to Mars: “Bush’s Mars Plan Attacked. It’s Just Pie in the Sky to Foreign Press.”
Australia’s The Age reflected on Obama’s announcement by writing:
“President Barack Obama set a bold new course for the future of US space travel, planning to send American astronauts into Mars orbit within the next three decades.”
But after Bush proclaimed a mission to Mars they wrote,
“A human trip to Mars is about as useful as a surfing trip to the Dandenongs.”
That’s awesome Aussie journalism for you.
The New York Times proved just as well balanced as the Australians. The official Editorial on the Opinion page of the Times gave Obama advice on how to win his battle to get to Mars.
“Thursday’s speech suggests that he has learned an important lesson from the yearlong struggle to pass health care reform. He needs to get involved early and not leave it to subordinates to defend plans that will upend vested interests.” – NYT
However, that same page in 2004 had no advice for Bush but to give up on going to the red planet.
“A manned space program in itself, however, is devoid of scientific merit, fraught with risk to human lives and absurdly expensive. Astronauts planting the Stars and Stripes on the red planet would produce a moving tableau. But as Lord Chesterfield said in another context, the pleasure would be momentary, the position ridiculous, and the expense damnable.” – NYT